Transport Blog

Blog for posts that are specifically about the Transport Group activities
Published by Sam Page on 08 July 2014

Image Thank you very much to everyone who contacted me about the Future of the Great Western Franchise Consultation through which the Department for Transport is gathering views from stakeholders on the planned approach for securing Great Western franchised services when the current direct award franchise ends in September 2015.

I am really pleased that whenever I discuss service levels and investment with the Rail Minister, the Secretary of State or indeed FGW the current franchise holder, everyone is fully aware of the importance of these services – and your communications can only help to reinforce that. Interestingly, the growth in passenger numbers using Pewsey station is higher than the average for the region, so there are sound commercial reasons to maintain service levels as well. I cannot conceive of any serious suggestion to downgrade the services from Pewsey and Bedwyn stations.

However, we cannot be at all complacent. There is constant pressure from towns further west for fewer stops en route, and I am absolutely determined to get a government and operator commitment to AT LEAST maintain the number and frequency of services. I am so pleased that the Bedwyn, Pewsey and Transition Marlborough rail groups are so active in communicating with rail users and helping me to draw all of the comments and reactions to any proposals together and I will do all I can to protect these vital services – not least because I use them too.

I have attached my response to the Consultation which I hope is of interest. www.claireperry.org.uk/downloads/hammond.pdf and I am continuing to monitor developments closely. I took the opportunity to meet Commuters at Pewsey station early last Friday morning and I will be at Bedwyn on Wednesday 23 July from 6.30am until 7.30am.

Claire Perry M.P.

Devizes Constituency

Published by Sam Page on 20 June 2014

The Department for Transport is seeking our views on the future of the Great Western train service, between Bedwyn and London Paddington, following electrification to Newbury by 2016:

Question 11. After the electrification to Newbury, expected in 2016 would passengers’ needs be best served by a diesel service from Bedwyn, Hungerford and Kintbury to Newbury connecting into a fast service to London Paddington, or a diesel stopping service from Bedwyn to Reading connecting to a fast service from Reading to London Paddington, or other options? The former would give faster journey times to London but add a change at Newbury for passengers to Reading.

Here is our response, which was sent to the Department for Transport on 19th June:

Changing trains at either Newbury (where there are no facilities for the disabled) or Reading, after 2016 will not only be a reduction in service, but will also be completely untenable for rail passengers from Marlborough:

Since Marlborough does not have its own railway station, commuters who need to use the railway must travel to stations at Bedwyn (15 miles return) Hungerford (22 miles return) Pewsey (14 miles return) or Swindon (28 miles return) often on a daily basis. These journeys are made almost wholly by car as the bus services are unreliable and the Bedwyn bus does not arrive in time for trains that depart before 0841. Furthermore, where a working family has only one car, the return journey to the station must be made twice a day, leading to a doubling of the mileage. Bedwyn station is the most popular choice for Marlborough's residents, because it is the closest station, which has a regular train service throughout the day and has free parking.

At least 60% of the passenger journeys that are currently made out of Bedwyn station (estimated to be 138, 917 per year) originate outside the village of Great Bedwyn (which has a population of just 1, 347). The journey from Marlborough town centre to Bedwyn station involves turning off the A4 after 4.1 miles, then following un-marked, un-lit, winding country lanes for a further 3.4 miles. This can take about 20 minutes with a further 5 to 10 minutes needed to locate a parking space. More than 50% of the early morning commuters that arrive at Bedwyn station travel to London Paddington. Changing trains at either Newbury or Reading could add another 30 minutes to the journey, thus increasing the total journey time from Marlborough to London Paddington to more than 2 hours. This would lead to increased car journeys to Newbury or Reading stations, the entire journey being made by car, or families being forced to move away from Marlborough in order to be closer to a railway station that serves their work place.

In 2012, hundreds of local residents, who are Bedwyn station users wrote to Claire Perry M.P. in support of extending electrification beyond Newbury, in order to preserve the direct services to London Paddington. This included the Mayor of Marlborough Town Council, Edwina Fogg, who wrote: “This council recognizes electrification to Bedwyn as vital in the promotion of our town as a commuter, tourist, business and trading centre and as an important way of reducing road congestion and carbon emissions". In August 2012, Councillor Richard Gamble, Portfolio Holder for Public Transport in Wiltshire Council wrote: “Maintaining direct services to London is essential for communities in Wiltshire and underpins the growth of local businesses and the economic health of the area".

Therefore, any down-grading of the Bedwyn to London Paddington train service which increases the journey time from Marlborough will have a detrimental impact on the economic viability of our town.

The full Great Western Specification Consultation document can be found here...

Please endorse our response or send your own comments to: GWconsultation@dft.gsi.gov.uk with a copy to claire.perry.mp@parliament.uk

This consultation closes on Thursday 26th June 2014.

Published by Sam Page on 04 July 2013
This month we saw the long-awaited report on the possible electrification of our local railway. The study was a direct result of the huge public reaction to proposals in the last franchise bidding document to reduce through train services from Bedwyn and Pewsey stations – an unacceptable situation given the importance of the rail links to our local economy. I took all the letters, petition and studies straight to the Minister for Transport, Simon Burns, and together with my neighbouring MP colleagues, argued at a meeting last November that the decision to end electrification at Newbury was not only arbitrary but contributing to the potential downscaling of services. The immediate and welcome result of our meeting was the commissioning of this study to assess the costs and benefits of extending electrification.
Four scenarios were considered:
  • an extension of electrification to Bedwyn
  • further extension to Westbury
  • electrification to Frome and the Mendip quarries
  • an extension of the scheme round to Bathampton Junction
We held meetings with the Consultants and made sure that all local feedback and communications were considered by the team in their consideration of variables like benefits in time savings, crowding, passenger quality, carbon emissions and reduced private car use. The initial results, which are summarised in the letter from the Minister, gave a strongly positive business case for the extension of electrification to Bedwyn but suggested that electrification further down the line would not be economic. The Minister also said that funding for the next capital spending period was already committed and therefore the work would have to wait until the 2019-24 period.
This is half a victory but it is not nearly enough and we now have more work to do. First, I have written to the Minister and the Chancellor pointing out that it would be mad to stop the work that is planned as far as Newbury in 2016, down tools and leave, only to come back three years later to do the last few miles and I would like to pull forward infrastructure spending from future periods to 2016 to get the Bedwyn work done. Second, I have asked for an assessment of the business case for the extension of electrification to Pewsey. Third, I have requested a meeting with the Department and the current franchise holders to seek reassurances over current levels of train services from Pewsey. Electrification is great – but what we must have is reliable, frequent through trains to support our local economy and I won't declare success until that is what we have.
Following the Government Spending Review and the announcement of £100bn of spending on infrastructure projects, I took the opportunity to write to the Chancellor again about the opportunity to include the Newbury-Bedwyn extension in the 2016 programme of works.

For more information, see Claire Perry's June Email Bulletin.

Published by Sam Page on 09 March 2013

Last week, TM's Transport Group hosted an important meeting with transport officers from Wiltshire Council who are responsible for drawing up the new Bedwyn bus timetable. Wiltshire Councillor and Cabinet member, Richard Gamble and Steve Smith from the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group also attended this meeting. Marlborough's Town Councillors were represented by Shelly Parker, the new Town Clerk.

We wanted the new timetable to be adjusted so that the buses would link with as many trains as possible, with a minimum six minute gap before the train arrives. We were also keen to ensure that bus fares are kept as low as possible, facilities are improved for cyclists and to look into the possibility of laying on extra buses to serve local events, such as the Jazz Festival and MOP Fair.

The Transport Officers explained that the initial funding cut had been reduced from £90,000 per year to just £50,000 per year. This means that after April 21st 2013, the service from Marlborough High Street to Bedwyn station will not begin until 10.05am and the last bus back will leave Bedwyn at 19.50pm on week days.

The 07.05am bus to Hungerford will be retained, however, and this links with the 0734 fast train to Paddington. This means that the following 'asymmetric' journey is possible for commuters who want to leave their cars at home and cut carbon emissions

Outward Journey from Bus departure time (Marlborough) Bus arrival time (Hungerford) Train departure time (Hungerford) Train arrival time (Paddington)
Marlborough 0705 0723 0734 0838


Inward journey  Train departure time (Paddington) Train arrival time (Bedwyn) Bus departure time (Bedwyn) Bus arrival time (Marlborough)
from 1636 1745 1752 1808
Paddington 1833 1935 1950 2006

The Transport Officers offered the following valuable concessions:

  • £1 only fare would be charged to 'Early Bird' passengers travelling to either Hungerford or Bedwyn before 10am and anyone returning from Bedwyn to Marlborough, who has a valid train ticket. 
  • The first bus to Hungerford and the last bus from Bedwyn will begin/end in Barton Park.
  • WC is willing to lay on extra buses to ferry passengers to and from Bedwyn station during special events, such as the Jazz Festival and MOP Fair.
  • Marshals can be provided to enable buses to stop in the town centre during special events.

Councillor Gamble promised to look into the possiblility of installing improved signage, a bus shelter and pull-in, as well as secure cycle racks at Bedwyn station.

WC Transport Officers stressed that the early evening buses may be cancelled after one year if they are not well used.

In order to build passenger confidence, the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group are requesting that the train company (currently First Great Western) refund taxi fares for passengers who miss the last bus because their train was delayed. TM's Transport Group members are planning to meet with the Bedwyn bus operator to discuss waiting times. 


Published by Sam Page on 15 November 2012




Crossrail electric train -could this come as far as Bedwyn?




Thanks to everyone who wrote to Claire Perry MP and the Transport Minister, Simon Burns recently, expressing their concerns about the threatened cuts to our train services at Bedwyn and Pewsey.

At a meeting yesterday evening, Claire told us that she had recieved '2 huge binders full of letters and emails' from her constituents, which she presented to the Minister at a meeting that was held with fellow Tory MPs Richard Benyon and Andrew Murrison, at the Department for Transport on Tuesday. As a result, the Minister has agreed to initiate a study into the benefits of electrification of the line west of Newbury in 4 stages:

  1. From Newbury to Bedwyn
  2. Extending from Bedwyn to Westbury – passenger use
  3. Extending from Bedwyn to Westbury with connections for freight use
  4. The diversionary routes through Trowbridge to Bath

He has instructed Network Rail to produce high level cost estimates for this electrification work.

Click here for more details of the DfT meeting.

This is great news - TM's Transport Group is now looking into the environmental benefits of electrifying the line as far as Bedwyn and Westbury, while the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group is working with Pewsey Train Watch to come up with a cost-benefit analysis of this work. We are also pressing for a Plan B to preserve the train service at current levels, in case line electrifiction proves to be too costly.

Claire suggested the possibility of holding a 'Franchise Bidders Hustings' in Great Bedwyn or Pewsey, in due course, so that train-users can question their proposed service.  We are also planning to lobby the Minister directly at Westminster, once we have prepared all the relevant information.

Please get involved by emailing us at transport@transitionmarlborough.org


Published by Sam Page on 15 October 2012

The address to write to is:

Rt Hon. Simon Burns MP 
Minister of State for Transport
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Rd

Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group suggest you include some of the following points:  

  • We don't accept any reduction in our peak and off peak direct services to Paddington or Reading. Bedwyn has 22/23 weekday calls in each direction at present giving an hourly service for most of the day, with roughly two trains an hour during the peaks. Therefore, any specification which significantly reduces calls or frequency will simply not be acceptable for station users. Of these calls, 12 trains in each direction (just over 50%) run through to and from Paddington.  
  • Bedwyn acts as a railhead for Marlborough and a wide surrounding area.  
  • 66% of users of Bedwyn station travel to or through Paddington.  
  • It's unacceptable to do this to Bedwyn (or Pewsey) when people have built their lives around the direct services.
  • It will hit local economies, communities and house prices.  
  • If they do this they'd better build some big car parks at Newbury and Andover and improve the road systems to handle the traffic pulses that train arrivals / departures create. People do not like changing trains and will prefer to make the first leg by car to a station that is direct to Paddington. The stations between Newbury and Westbury currently spread the load.  
  • It's way off any green agenda they may have.   
  • Why has the DfT removed the perfect solution from the ITT? This was in their previous consultation document where the plan was to run an hourly semi-fast Paddington to Exeter diesel service. This would likely have used the HST stock freed up by electrification of the London / Bristol route. Such a service could call at Paddington, Reading, Newbury, Kintbury, Hungerford, Bedwyn, Pewsey, Westbury, Castle Cary, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway and Exeter. Note this solution is BTPG's preferred solution.   

If you wish you could request electrification to be continued to Bedwyn or Westbury. However, we feel the HST route is more realistic (because the implementation costs are with the train operator c.f. the DfT) and has less of an environmental impact (overhead gantries and replacement of bridges).  

You can also sign the Pewsey Train Watch petition, here... 

Published by Sam Page on 18 March 2012

Transport Group members have been working on a plan to identify the safest route for cyclists to travel round Marlborough town.  The proposed route was on show for the first time at St Johns Science Fair to encourage feed-back from parents and teachers.  The plan was very well received and once it has been finalised, efforts will be made to encourage students to cycle to school via the new route.

Published by Sam Page on 12 January 2012

It's tempting to leave the car idling for a few minutes when picking up the kids from school or waiting for someone at the station.  

Did you know that when engines are left to idle they continue to release CO2 as well as damaging hydrocarbons that cause asthma?  Apparantly the air intake closes when a petrol engine is idling, so it has to work harder to function, whereas diesels simply use less fuel when idling, making them more efficient.

Transport for London is urging everyone to switch off their vehicle engines if they are waiting for more than 60 secs.  This small change can have a big impact in terms of saving both fuel and harmful emissions.

Drivers who leave their vehicles idling in Scotland face a £20 fine! Watch their ad here.

Published by Sam Page on 23 November 2011

There are currently no buses connecting Marlborough’s commuters with peak-time trains at Bedwyn station. Therefore, we are proposing to establish a dedicated, community, minibus service to link with the 0646 and the 0756 trains in the morning and the 1846 and the 1935 trains in the evening.

In the morning this minibus will start at Barton Park and then stop in the High Street, by the Roebuck and Savernake, before being driven directly to Bedwyn station where it will connect with the appropriate train. The journey will be in reverse during the evening. Crucially, the minibus will wait for the return train in the evening, even if it is late.

The idea is to give Marlborough’s commuters the incentive to leave their cars at home, thereby saving fuel costs, CO2 emissions and relieve the parking congestion in Great Bedwyn village. Please register your interest in this venture by clicking here, as it will help us to show that this is a viable project.  

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